January 15, 2008 at 03:19 AM · viola, cello, or bass....

We just wanted to share our wonderful story. I am a Homeschooling MOM ! We found the A-Beka DVD Program. This year (starting the 9th grade) Jackie(age 14)decided to play the violin. NEVER before this had she ever held a violin in her hands. After just 2 lessons(approx. 50 mins ea.) She was playing a song! For each grading period we are required to record and send in her progress to the academy for a grade. She has a B+ in Orchestra(that is 91-93 on A-beka's grading scale). The program is the JAFFE STRINGS! My daughter is proof you can learn from a DVD! Even violin! Just wanted to share with other homeschooling parents! Thanks!

Replies (100)

January 15, 2008 at 03:20 AM · LOL

January 15, 2008 at 04:20 AM · Eh? I was homeschooled but I took lessons with a real live teacher....don't really see the need for a DVD...

January 15, 2008 at 04:39 AM · Annette,

That's a positive!!!!!!!!

January 15, 2008 at 05:25 AM · I find it totally offensive, a scam. Why are you trying to build up your child on such a false foundation? Yes, I'm sure that all the extremely disciplined students (and parents) on this site, who have been practicing for hours, every single day, for years, taking lessons with teachers who have done the same, going to group classes, going to summer programs and institutes, will be very envious to find that they could have simply learned it in less than two hours from a DVD. And gotten a B+ in Orchestra, at that!

January 15, 2008 at 05:42 AM · heck Laurie,

after two hours my students can play the Tchaikovsky. I threaten them with a DVD of me singing.



PS I think the Bplus is just blood type.

January 15, 2008 at 05:46 AM · This product reminds me of one of those infomercials on TV at 4am selling the newest juice maker, vegetable cutter, or ab workout machine etc.

January 15, 2008 at 05:48 AM · It slices! It dices! It does flying staccato!

...bleah, I'm up a little too late again...

January 15, 2008 at 05:52 AM · Buri, please put that DVD up on Youtube -- it will help us all get up to speed.

January 15, 2008 at 05:55 AM · The juice maker sounds great, but I don't think even prunes can help me at this point.

January 15, 2008 at 06:01 AM · Pretty soon we're going to be back at the violin-playing robot again...which reminded me of a terribly disturbing NY Times article I read a year or so ago about how Broadway orchestras will soon be just pits full of synthesizers (which can't unionize, can't get tendonitis, and never go on strike--unless the system crashes.) And there was all this stuff on how soon, no one will be able to tell the difference between a violin-robot and a live performer...seriously, what is wrong with the world??

January 15, 2008 at 06:06 AM · (and how was that even remotely on-topic? sorry was a long weekend...)

January 15, 2008 at 06:43 AM · You can learn plenty from DVD's. I charge my students for the feedback; that's something valuable you don't get from DVD's.

January 15, 2008 at 08:00 AM · Machines have surpassed humans in many fields and will eventually excel in all.

January 15, 2008 at 08:01 AM · Balderdash!

January 15, 2008 at 09:22 AM · Edward Ferris. You have no soul.

January 15, 2008 at 10:10 AM · Viola and cello take only 30 minutes and bass only 5 minutes with this DVD program ;-)

January 15, 2008 at 10:13 AM · does bass ever take more than 5 minutes? : )

January 15, 2008 at 10:20 AM · To carry across an airport, it does.

January 15, 2008 at 10:24 AM · Patricia: only when having a teacher disturbing your state of illusion about your playing. Therefore, I would recommend the DVD program instead of a teacher. You will feel much better, and your parents will be proud anyway.

January 15, 2008 at 11:48 AM · Annette Lyle must be Billy Mays in drag.

January 15, 2008 at 12:18 PM · The orchestra must have been on DVD too.

January 15, 2008 at 12:40 PM · i agree that learning from dvd in this set-up may be a set-up for many potential problems down the line. further, i hope this is not just an ad from the dvd seller. even if it is, i don't care.

having said that, i can imagine there are many self learning students learning every tricks possible from this site, without any direct supervision. whether their interpretation is correct or not, we don't know.

different strokes for different folks. short of ideal learning environments, people do what they can.

the common ground we share, however, is the interest in classical music. with that in mind, we may need to be more supportive and understanding, even though not doing exactly we see fit may drive us nuts:)

January 15, 2008 at 01:18 PM · When parents opt for home schooling, they're doing so for some reason. I assume they're trying to avoid something. Now, if their English teacher would be a worthy this or that, and their algebra class consisted of just math, and so on, they'd just send the kid to school. Is music excluded from the problem? Is it easy to find a music teacher who doesn't do as much harm as good? They apparently think not of the rest of the teachers, else no market for home schooling. I'd have been better off with a DVD than one or two of the teachers I had ;)

January 15, 2008 at 02:04 PM · I have homeschooled off and on both my girls (now they are both in public schools) and now I have just pulled out my son in the middle of the year for his personal needs not addressed by his school. I am not a religious fanatic or a person who has issues with the govt teaching my kids. I homeschool based on the needs of my kids at the time.

With that being said, I would never have a DVD teach my kids any course.

I would think that your child would develop bad habits that the DVD would not see ... haha

There are several homeschooled children who take private lessons. I am currently looking for a piano teacher for my son.

I would also see if your child could be in the local student orchestra, several public schools allow homeschoolers that opportunity, however they would want the name of your private teacher... somehow Abeka DVD wouldn't make it.

My advice... get a private teacher it is sooo worth it!

January 15, 2008 at 03:29 PM · another crop of kids does homeschooling for a different reason: not necessarily to avoid anything, but to allow more time (manage it on their own terms) to devote to or focus on a specific discipline.

for instance, i know of several kid musicians being home schooled because the family--well, the parents-- feel this allows more time to practice.

i also know several very talented junior golfers staying out of regular school to spend more time practicing. there are actually schools online to get some sort of diploma.

in both, the aspiration is to turn pro eventually.

again, different schools for different folks i guess:)

January 15, 2008 at 02:05 PM · I think many homeschooling parents work very hard to provide a rounded education for their children, but it's pretty rare that there isn't something else. They may have a problem with the local public school, or the institution of any kind of school; maybe reasonable, maybe an ax to grind. Many hold conservative beliefs about religion or child-rearing, and seem to feel that exposing their children to (whatever) will be damaging. Some, as seems to be the case with this mother, seem to believe that they CAN do it all themselves, and do it better, just because they are the parent. That is the height of conceit, really, and potentially very limiting and even damaging to the child. But maybe some of them don't care about that? It seems some want to keep the children close, even tied to them, to control the child so he/she follows their beliefs or lifestyle. I am sure there are many home-schoolers out there who are not like this, but I suspect a lot are. Sue

January 15, 2008 at 02:51 PM · I was homeschooled nearly my entire life, and agree with Sue that there are many many different reasons parents choose to do so. Part of it is quality of education, and the opportunity for individual attention that it can offer. Partly it's cultural/social/religious beliefs. Partly it's wanting to keep a close-knit family. Personally, it was a good experience for me. Not that it was perfect . . . there's a few things I'd have changed in hindsight. But overall, good. And one plus for me personally was that it gave me more time to focus on my music studies.

And there's NO way my parents would have gotten a DVD to teach me violin. Ewww. I've taken private lessons since I started, though I did study with my older sister for a period. But I doubt many homeschooling parents would be opposed to private music lessons for their kids.

P.S. I also played in a real live youth orchestra and went to real live summer camps. ;)

January 15, 2008 at 02:59 PM · I totally agree with Al and Sue.

My oldest daughter is thinking about doing 1/2 day public school and 1/2 day homeschool next year so that she can fit practicing and other things into her schedule... as it stands now, there is hours and hours of homework. Many students around here and at other pre college music institutions recommend 1/2 day public and 1/2 day homeschooling.

My daughter wants to do other things like join a swimming team and other extras but the homework seems to be getting in the way.

I have nothing against homeschooling methods as long as it is best for the child involved. However, holding them too close then releasing them into the world unprepared...

January 15, 2008 at 03:19 PM · I see there are other reasons for homeschooling that the one I thought of! If I was going to do it though, something along those lines would probably be my reason.

Here's an interesting interview for Laurie, maybe. Interview the head of the operation making this or a similar DVD :) Find out who the intended market is, if there's some philosophy, something we haven't thought of, and so on.

January 15, 2008 at 03:24 PM · I don't think that's a real post; it sounds like a thinly-veiled, free ad for the " A-Beka DVD Program".

January 15, 2008 at 03:54 PM · From the A Beka Homepage: "Our skilled researchers and writers do not paraphrase progressive education textbooks and add Biblical principles; they do primary research in every subject and look at the subject from God’s point of view.". - That's really remarkable and I would love to learn about his view. I think it's the only way to learn to play the violin within 2 hours. Order now!

January 15, 2008 at 04:11 PM · God plays the violin?

January 15, 2008 at 04:16 PM · Yes, he does. I used to be in a band with him.

January 15, 2008 at 04:21 PM · OK, so Heifetz, Rubinstein and Piatigorsky are in an argument over whose name should be listed first on the program. Heifetz insists "But I am Jascha Heifetz! I am the big star! MY name should be first on the program!" Rubinstein counters, "No, no, no! It's ALWAYS pianist-violinist-cellist! That's just how it is!" Heifetz: "But I am JASCHA HEIFETZ!!" Rubinstein: "...Jascha. My dear friend. If God Himself played the violin, we would STILL list ourselves as the Rubinstein-God-Piatigorsky Trio!!!"

January 15, 2008 at 04:22 PM · Everyone knows Satan plays the violin!

January 15, 2008 at 04:25 PM · Heifetz dies and goes to Heaven. He is met by St. Peter at the pearly gates and informed of his acceptance into the Heaven fifth chair second violin. Needless to say, he is scandalized, and demands to sit in on a rehearsal before agreeing to play in an orchestra that refuses to make him concertmaster. So he and St. Peter head over to the pearly concert hall for a look. There they all are: Paganini, Ysaye, Vivaldi, Milstein, Oistrakh, Szigeti, Hassid....

"Wait a minute," says Heifetz. "Who's that big bear of a guy with the beard, the one on the podium? I don't think I've seen him before..."

St. Peter sighs and rolls his eyes. "Oh, that's God. Sheesh...he thinks he's Karajan."

January 15, 2008 at 04:39 PM · mara, i am curious,,,is heifetz a religious person?

i know antonio strad was saying that his work represented god's work or something like that...

January 15, 2008 at 04:47 PM · Heifetz? Dunno. I actually don't know much about him as a person aside from some jokes and anecdotes.

January 15, 2008 at 06:23 PM · al ku: I don't know either. However, read about his concept of violin playing: "Violin Mastery? To me it means the ability to make the violin a perfectly controlled instrument guided by the skill and intelligence of the artist, to compel it to respond in movement to his every wish. The artist must always be superior to his instrument, it must be his servant, one that he can do with what he will." (taken from "Violin Mastery" by F.H. Martens, I posted a link to a free online issue a few days ago). To me, that looks like the opposite of a religious approach to violin playing. I think some of you might agree that the most convincing exponent of a truly religous approach to violin playing may have been Menuhin. His concept of violin playing gets very clear in his book "Life Class" from 1986 which is just wonderful. I read it again and again.

January 15, 2008 at 05:25 PM · mathias, good point and plausible interpretation.

when some human beings manage to achieve seemingly superhuman milestones we wonder about the inspiration ,,,often, there are elements of religious influence.

in marketing, besides sex, i guess god comes in a close second.

January 15, 2008 at 06:20 PM · Back to topic,please,people. Even though I wrote my reply about home-schooling, and carefully phrased, too! it did cross my mind that this was a thinly-veiled advertisement. But who would be so dumb as to advertise such a thing on this .com if they had looked at even one thread?? Sue

January 15, 2008 at 06:24 PM · Who would be so dumb as to come up with something like this ANYWAY? You can't learn to play the violin by watching pre-recorded generic lessons on a DVD, at least not to any level beyond the most rudimentary. The entire concept is just ridiculous.

January 15, 2008 at 06:26 PM · A Beka with their special point of view ;-)

January 15, 2008 at 06:25 PM · I must give all of you an Apology!! I am VERY sorry....I thought this was a web-site for Grown-ups. But it is obviously for children. And cruel and very sick children at that. I didn't mean to threaten you, those of you that has had to have YEARS of practice just to learn how to play MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB.... with my child learning it in just a few mins. I am very SORRY !! See, I thought I was talking to adults, because adults would have seen I was trying to pass on info to those who might need it or want it. SO PLEASE FORGIVE ME....I HAVE YOU....;)

January 15, 2008 at 07:10 PM · annette, if i were you and trying to share something that i am excited about and receive jeers and cold shoulders in return, i could be disappointed also (but chances are i won't:). i apologize to you for also thinking that it may be an ad, but i did acknowledge in my first post that there are different approaches to fulfill one's interest in violin. to a mom, a child playing a tune on a very difficult instrument is indeed precious and any comment against that is understandably insensitive.

this site has many highly qualified prof teachers of violin and therefore their standard is very high. one of the most frustrating things to them is to care for students with deep-rooted, self-developed bad habits.

i hope you can view their reaction to your suggestion not as a ridicule (certainly not on a personal level but to the product) but a vent for their frustration--it is very hard to reverse the lost years once bad habits develop over time,,,

take care.

January 15, 2008 at 07:14 PM · Most people know that there is no substitute for a good teacher. Why did your daughter make a B+? Shouldn't the goal be an A+?

January 15, 2008 at 07:21 PM · charlie, my goals in life sometimes are grandiose enough to be at A+++++ level, but sheet happens.

January 15, 2008 at 08:29 PM · Thank you al ku....I see your point...I did not mean to step on toes...

I just wish people would not be so cruel to one another...

I'm still trying to figure out how I ended up in drag!!! LOL

January 15, 2008 at 08:32 PM · How about those C. Haslop DVDs advertised on Are they any better than other DVDs? Just wanted to know... I don't know about DVDs, but how about teachers that teach you to hold the bow by digging your thumbnail into the leather pad, or those who give you piece after piece to read (the harder the better) without teaching you anything, zero, about technique (and no scales, no etudes, nothing that might remotely help). It happened to me, and there are threads on that show it happened to other people too. At least I take comfort in the fact I'm not the only one... But I am going off on a tangent...

January 15, 2008 at 10:46 PM · Greetings,

>I didn't mean to threaten you, those of you that has had to have YEARS of practice just to learn how to play MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB.... with my child learning it in just a few mins.

There seems to be a lot of frustration on all sides now. For what it`s worth here are the reasons I am so opposed to this kind of DVD- not offered in the spirit of cruelty.

Its fairly difficult to get someone to mimic a violinist playing a simple tune on the violin within a few minutes but with a clever and cordinated child it is possible. However, this does beg the question, what has actually been learned?

Unfortunately, the violin is such a complex skill (considered by many to be one of the most complex man has inveneted) that it is necessarily taught in a series of small steps. This view has been propunded by -all- the great teachers virtually from the beginnning. The body of literature and experience on this issue has never been refuted except by extraordinary phenomenon such as prodigies who have been expose dot a greta deal of playing from a young age- Ida Haendel is a good example. What happens when attempts are made to bypass these procedures (which do vary somewhat from teacher to teacher)? The truth is that everything one does during the process of learning the surface effect of reproducing a tune -is learnt-: the basic stance (varies from taecher to teahcer), ow to swing up the instrumnet; how to place the head; how to keep the left arm hand free and balanced; how to put the left hand in the correct position; how to hold the bow; the list is enormous. Suzuki teachers can talk about dozens, so does Rolland, Kemptner, and Havas to a lesser degree. The same is found in Auer`s books in which the student advances the right hand to a quite musical degree for a long time without even using the left hand. And although there are a few underlying pricniples they -all- require the watchfulness and careful adjustment of a teacher.

If anyone one of these minutae is learnt incorrectly then it is -learned- and will hold the student back in the future. What is done must be undone. Only a competent teacher can look at an individual and make decisions about what needs to be done and when.

The heartache that this kind of DVD offers with mmisleading promises is actually the wanton -cruelty-. It has simply been deferred to make a profit.

Incidentally, this does not detract from the value of many currenly available DVDs such as those by Zweig or Haslop. Those teach with clarity and small steps in line with an understanding of their secondary role and the true nature of learning the instrument.



January 15, 2008 at 11:35 PM · Wise words as usual . . . Amen to Buri.

January 15, 2008 at 11:49 PM · Annette, my comments were not intended to be personally offensive. So I am sorry that you took it the wrong way. I regarded your statement as an amusing kind of advertisement and I reacted with irony. I do not feel frustrated at all that I have still not mastered "Mary had a little lamb" after 30 years of hard work. Anyone out there who managed it? Please post a recording ;-)

Concerning instructional DVDs: In my opinion, they may be helpful or at least not harmful if a solid basis is there. To me, the best instructional DVDs are videos of great violinists playing. But I think that in an early stage a good teacher is nearly indispensable if one wants to get a decent fiddler. Otherwise, one will have to work even more later on, as Buri already pointed out.

January 16, 2008 at 12:58 AM · I know nothing of A Beka and I don't know why religion is brought into this thread. Everyone has a religion. If they say they don't they are not honest. Atheism is a religion too, a crazy, irrational and unlikely one, with all the trappings of a religion.

An honest view would accept that both self-teaching and teacher/student learning are good, proven models. There is a bit of immaturity and spite in this thread. Apologies would not be out of place. Why are so many threatened by difference? Have the guts to accept something that doesn't have, for once, your own big tick of approval. Let it be. Quit trying to kill it. Or are you scared that you and your world aren't good enough? That others might outdo you?

Never stomp on enthusiasm and love. That is the beginning of inhumanity.

January 16, 2008 at 01:14 AM · Reverend Jon! Amen. I think the basic problem here is we're automatically talking about a kind of music where beginner players and beginner listeners can't trust their own ears. There are other kinds.

But I wonder what would happen if a beginner in classical was allowed to teach himself and encouraged to trust his own ears from the start, and to do whatever he chose to do. What would it sound like, experienced teachers?

January 16, 2008 at 01:26 AM · Have you seen the COST of that program? Check the website:

I think that I should raise my rates! Since I'm, you know, an actual human who can respond to my students and give them actual comments and helpful suggestions.

January 16, 2008 at 02:13 AM · Greetings,

perhaps they charge by the position. Or am I getting confused with some other professions?



January 16, 2008 at 03:10 AM · I wish this was a joke. The author sent me a juvenile message regarding a previous comment. I am, let's just say, a young person, and I do not feel up to the task of arguing with her. I do not appreciate personal insults (especially from people who have no idea about who I am or where I am from).

There are many people on this forum that bring a wealth of information to the table. People would be more receptive to this valuable information if we did not insult them, and in return, if they place a value on our opinions.

However, I do feel that this person deserves all sorts of embarrassment for posting this thread. How is it possible to learn violin from a DVD? Sure, you can learn a few rudiments, maybe a simple "song" or two, but is it anything worthwhile, let alone to be proud of?

Violin is a lot of hard work. It takes discipline and time to make a significant achievement on the instrument. No matter how good you become, you can always get better. I wish the best of luck to your daughter. I hope she enjoys the violin as much as possible.

January 16, 2008 at 03:40 AM · I'm going to wait for the Blu-Ray

January 16, 2008 at 03:51 AM · Godot isn`t enough for you?

January 16, 2008 at 04:25 AM · First of all, if anyone sends you an abusive letter through, let me know. That's grounds for someone to lose membership. I received a letter, and it was not abusive, just, well if she's sending it around, here it is:

"I am very sorry Laurie you are so angry that my child was able to pick up a violin and play just from learning off a DVD. I wasn't trying to make anyone mad. I was just trying to send out a message of good will and people have made it into something ugly. And people wonder why parents are turning to homeschooling as an alternative way of teaching. Thank you for your time....please forgive me...I have you."

And I responded: No, I'm not angry. You posted a commercial for your religious-based instrumental program on a professional violinists' website. These are the opinions of professional violinists and teachers who have been educating many children and adults for a lifetime. Also, they have studied themselves. I'm glad this kind of analysis will be available on the web for those interested in the program.

January 16, 2008 at 05:03 AM · Violin teachers serve a very worthy purpose and deserve unlimited praise for their contribution.

But, I am somehow reminded of those early geniuses who were gifted and without a teacher.

Few and far between, of course.

January 16, 2008 at 05:33 AM · A completely self-taught artist either happens once in several hundred years or is just plain and simple a myth.

January 16, 2008 at 07:46 AM · Yes I also received an e-mail from this woman as well. It was the exact same one in fact as Laurie posted. I guess it was the form e-mail. Glad she got my name right at least. I guess she did not like my reference to late night infomercials.

January 16, 2008 at 10:39 AM · A quick comment to Jon O'brien - I totally agree with your main point, in that there is perhaps a bit of immaturity in some of the responses above, which could have been more professional. I'm sad to point out though that your message also has unnecessary spite - it's perfectly fine for you to say that atheism is a religion and is unlikely, but "crazy, irrational"? :) (For one thing, would you use those words to describe someone else's religion?)

January 16, 2008 at 12:02 PM · What does "I have you" mean? Like in her prayers or something? Weird.

January 16, 2008 at 12:48 PM · I believe she meant, "I have [done so for] you", indicating reciprocity.

January 16, 2008 at 01:21 PM · Back to the main topic. Here is a link to a 30 MB demo movie of this method:

Here, Dr. Alberto Jaffé is presented as a master teacher of violin, cello and conducting which seems to be quite unique. Proving his skills, he gives some nice demonstrations on the violin, convincingly demonstrating how to have no control over the sounding point, how to produce an ugly tone and how to resist the inner force to correct mediocre intonation. Furthermore, he demonstrates how to conduct after the beat which should be honored as an innovative approach, forcing aspiring young musicians already at a very early stage not to get metrically confused by a conductor. The inner secret of success of this amazing method is explained by a little D-class actor at 8:39.

January 16, 2008 at 01:18 PM · I'm starting to suspect that the person who started this thread is really someone else, trying to stir things up with a little mischief. Too many inconsistencies in the writing style, too invested and combative for someone who seems to have joined this board for the sole purpose of "spreading the gospel"about Jaffe strings. I think it's either an employee of the company marketing the program (you know, the same way corporations mess with Wikipedia, but on a tiny scale) or a member posting under a pseudonym having a little fun with us.

Or maybe I'm just jealous because I didn't get a mean letter.

January 16, 2008 at 01:24 PM · "A completely self-taught artist either happens once in several hundred years or is just plain and simple a myth."

Mara, you might amend that to "a completely self taught classical violinist [artist], because there are many self-taught artists in other forms.

January 16, 2008 at 02:39 PM · Vincent van Gogh was self-taught. I once had a very informative talk with the curator of a van Gogh/Gauguin exhibit about why van Gogh isn't technically a folk artist. Segovia and many others were self-taught classical guitarists. What do violin teachers think keeps classical violinists from teaching themselves? Something about the bow? ;)

And almost everybody outside of classical is self-taught. Outside of classical, people who aren't self-taught often get accused of sounding like processed bread, which is what modern violinists are sometimes accused of, as opposed to "golden age" violinists who were apparently self-taught to a greater extent. Possibly no connection.

I got a letter too. It only said this is why she pulled her child out of school - people being cruel.

January 16, 2008 at 04:07 PM · a bigger issue with this thread is not about the merits (or the lack of) of dvd in violin teaching, nor about religious overtone in learning environment, nor about choices in schooling, nor about unpleasant exchanges on the internet...

it is about the difference between an opinion and a fact.

opinion: home schooling rocks.

opinion: home schooling sucks.

opinion: dvd rocks.

opinion: dvd sucks.

opinion: yes god.

opinion: no god.

opinion: eager mom.

opinion: eager sales.

living in a free society, like it or not, we learn to reject, tolerate, understand or even accept others' opinions which are different from our own.

fact is: opinions are opinions :).

January 16, 2008 at 04:10 PM · Hey Jim,

I think a distinction needs to be made between "self-taught" and "informally taught". Many of these folks had informal arrangements/help from professionals. Also, you probably need to check your facts. Van Gogh, for example, DID study formally at the Royal Academy of Art. According to the Wikipedia (God bless the wikipedia!!), "In 1880, Vincent followed the suggestion of his brother Theo and took up art in earnest. In autumn 1880, he went to Brussels, intending to follow Theo's recommendation to study with the prominent Dutch artist Willem Roelofs, who persuaded Van Gogh (despite his aversion to formal schools of art) to attend the Royal Academy of Art. There he not only studied anatomy, but the standard rules of modelling and perspective, all of which, he said, 'you have to know just to be able to draw the least thing.' " I particularly like the quote which sums up my view on self teaching vs. formal teaching. Basically, to do the "least thing" on the violin requires serious study with a serious player. In the case of something like country fiddle, that might take the form of "jam sessions" with your mentor(s) who offer suggestions and direct modelling. In the classical world, we prefer a less hit-or-miss solution, so we have formal lessons in which the teacher guides the student's progress along a well worked out path of etudes, pieces and technique.

As for learning violin from a DVD, if I weren't a musician already, I might naively assume it was like learning cooking or a language from a DVD- not ideal but at least possible in the beginning stages. The difference is that the physical precision and set up are so important and require so much feedback from a teacher (or teacher surrogate!) that the DVD format is not very practical for violin.

January 16, 2008 at 04:23 PM · Self-taught artists know they aren't "there" after two hours. They have a certain instinct for excellence. Also, artists tend to want things to be just so, they don't go showing off their wares until they have something to show.

And I don't think there's a general problem with DVDs; but they work better for someone who already has a basic knowledge and is trying to expand on that. Even then, you need about five minutes of watching the DVD per five weeks of daily practicing. Simon Fischer is coming out with a DVD, and I'm looking forward to that.

As for God, it wasn't actually God who stuck the "Christian-based" label on the above DVD; it was a human, a human in the business of marketing.

January 16, 2008 at 04:57 PM · Howard,

The reason I didn't make the distinction is because I was disallowing that people are ever literally self-taught. The moment your copying someone (etc.) turns into seeking out a suggestion, as will always happen, there you go. Even copying someone, that person is teaching you in a sense. Although that's not teaching if teaching requires a closed loop by your definition :)

The best term for it I know of is "a product of a haphazard musical background" (James Taylor, ca. 1972).

January 16, 2008 at 05:05 PM · Well said, Al Ku...

January 16, 2008 at 05:06 PM · Yeah, Laurie. Self-Taught artists do have an instinct like that. I tried self-teaching long enough to know or have the instinct to know that I needed to go back to a teacher!!!!!!!!!!! Or else...

January 16, 2008 at 05:12 PM · If the original post was a promotion of the product, it wasn't a very savy marketing ploy because Laurie's response to the e-mail she received ("I'm glad this kind of analysis will be available on the web for those interested in the program") was pretty true. A google search for "A beka violin" lists this thread first!

On the other hand, if the orginal poster actually paid for this course I would demand my money back. The "testimonial" by the boy at the end of the demo video says it all: "I really like Jaffe Strings because you get to learn songs and the violin without practicing" Oh really!?

There are in fact probably better resources than this (and many other commercial products) available for free on the net. One of the frequent posters here who is basically teaching himself with video instruction materials has gathered many such free resources here:

January 16, 2008 at 05:08 PM · Hi Jim,

Ok, so we agree that "self-taught" folks are actually "informally taught". So the issue is really one of efficiency vs. the risk of squelching creativity, if I read you correctly. You and I, I think, would have more in common in our opinions about that than you might think! I certainly have seen many students musically destroyed even as they are technically trained. We are creating (as I heard it put recently) artisans instead of virtuosi. However, that's just a disease that many teachers happen to have in classical music now, and doesn't mean that haphazard, informal teaching is inherently better than formal teaching for maintaining creativity. I think that you can have the best of both worlds if you choose your teacher carefully!

I wonder what some of these "self-taught" people could have been with more training? Also, how many talents get wasted because of the lack of respect in general in our culture for formal training in music and the arts? How many are wasted because of a belief in talent and not in good teaching and hard work?

As for "golden age violinists" being somehow more self-taught, that's just not true! Most of them were the result of highly organized training in well-known schools with very well thought out systems. What gave you the idea that they were self-taught?

January 16, 2008 at 04:44 PM · As my last post, I would like to clear a few things up:

First, I feel I need to Really Apology for my first post. I did not mean in anyway to say any DVD is BETTER than a human teacher. If I applied such I am sorry. And maybe it did sound a bit "commerical" and a plug for A-Beka and Dr. Jaffe. It wasn't meant to. My message was lost.

Second, I was not trying to convert anyone or to apply my "religious" beliefs in the post.

Third, I homeschool for a very simple reason, I Love my child. For no more reason than that.

I am sorry. I had no business on this web-site. This was not a "homeschool" site. I should have not posted. I did not realize and see you were a "community" already. And I was just a stranger.

I intruded where I had no place. I am sorry.

To those who defended me Thank you. For those I lost my temper with and those who wanted to hang me by my thumbs, forgive me. I hope all of you the best in life.

I still don't understand how I ended up in drag?



Annette Lyle

January 16, 2008 at 05:34 PM · Howard,

"You and I, I think, would have more in common in our opinions about that than you might think!"

No, I've always read you as a smart and reasonable guy ;D

The golden age fiddlers being more self-taught. This comes from an article (a very, very convincing one) about old teaching methods in Russia, vs. post-Galamian. The self-teaching aspect I'm referring to is the Russians were left to figure out some things on their own, and sink or swim. Galamaian's philosophy on the other hand was like no problem bro., I'll teach you to play this thing.

I didn't mean to imply that I think one is inherently better than the other. Situation, genes, lot of stuff factor in. But to me, haphazard is a lot less likely to produce a zombie. Less likely to produce someone who plays in tune with a good sound, maybe too. Don't know.

January 16, 2008 at 05:52 PM · Annette,

No one wants to hang you by your thumbs. We just don't want you, or anyone else, to get totally duped. I think I can speak for everyone on this site in saying: we would all love for your daughter to learn to play the violin and get a lot of joy out of it. Most of us would probably recommend a different system, and you probably can find quite a lot of info on that right here. And I bet we have some members from Georgia who could help you find a good teacher.

Are you saying if you don't homeschool your child, you don't love your child? It isn't true. You show love for your child by getting your child the best possible education.

Best wishes.

January 16, 2008 at 07:36 PM · i would like to raise another point which may not be that apparent on this site since 99.99% people here (except me perhaps) aspire to be better tomorrow than today musically/violinistically. well, i am not saying i try not to be better myself, just that it is not a personal goal or of highest priority. most people will find holes in that logic, but allow me to explain.

think of something you find to be fun and kinda enjoy but never really that good at it or spend much thought/focus on it. if that particular activity stops existing in the universe tomorrow, you may be sad, but you can go on. can we use ping pong as an example?:)

sure you can play or think you can play. it is fun when bunch of friends come together once in a blue moon and you simply play.

so, trying very hard to be a nice guy, i suggest to you, hey, you kinda suck at the game, why not get a teacher to learn to pong properly?

you say, nah and shrug your shoulder.

i press. hey, since you are playing ping pong and that the proper form means everything, why not do it right??? you are a violinist, you preach proper instruction early on. so i am preaching you!

you say: shut up! can't you see i am trying to concentrate on my game here? i am doing fine! besides, you really suck at violin you know!

i counter: i know! because i don't have a teacher. you suck at ping pong for the same reason! ok, i will get you a dvd set for pong then. some say it is even better than a teacher! :)

you throw the paddle at me (to me that is not as bad as being in rag:).

well, it just happens that some people in this world are testing the water of violin like your attitude toward ping pong.

until you understand, you just don't! :)

January 16, 2008 at 07:13 PM · Right Al,

I recently bought some "calculus for idiots" book which a mathematician friend of mine thought was stupid. However, for the level of committment I was willing to bring to the project, the 'for idiots" guide was just gracious plenty...

Sometimes you don't need to lay a foundation because all you want is a tent and a chance to enjoy the view.

January 16, 2008 at 07:16 PM · howard, besides getting ready to teach your one year old cute button calculus and violin, i am afraid to think what else you are up to...

tent and a view,,, yes! years ago in college, we went up to lake george and camped along the shore with a view. thinking back, i admit we had been warned by a teacher/dvd: DO NOT BRING FOOD INSIDE THE TENT!!!!

what i have since developed can be called bear phobia. it was pretty intense. only poorly prepared solo violinists know how i felt.

January 16, 2008 at 07:50 PM · al ku: By the by, I aspire to become better today than yesterday, otherwise I won't be better tomorrow than yesterday. I am not able to completely follow your logic in the context of this discussion, however I think I got your bottom line: not everybody takes violin playing so seriously and should have the right to do so, right? Of course I agree, however you may receive some unexpected reactions when suggesting some dubious ping pong beginner DVDs to a majority of people who devoted their lifes to the art of playing and possibly teaching ping pong. It's just not the right forum and mainly explains the reactions (besides the controversial issue of religion). I think the more children learn string instruments the better, be it self-taught or with a good teacher. In the first case the chance may be higher that they become violinists who mainly enjoy their playing themselves (which is also fine) but at least they will gain some sense of the instrument and possibly go to classical concerts as adult listeners and appreciate the accomplishments of those who devoted their life to this magical instrument, which may have made some of them a little bit quirky ;-) Annette, again: I am sure, nobody wanted to offend you personally.

January 16, 2008 at 08:06 PM · In my honest opinion, I think this is a big misunderstanding. I think Laurie handled it well in her Jan 16 post.

I think lyle stumbled upon a site and posted her opinoins about a product. Many homeschooling families do that; they get excited about a product and post it on all their favorite sites. Many others (non homeschoolers) do the same.

With that said, there are going to be many different opinions about this topic as well as any other topics. When you post about anything you are going to have other viewpoints. The trick is, not to take it personally.... life is to short to sweat the small stuff.

practice well


January 16, 2008 at 08:24 PM · This is a very entertaining thread. Was looking to get my mind off my own petty problems/worries. It worked.

Laughs, enlightenment, adrenaline surge. All for the low cost of the $1020.00 I pay to each year. (Laurie lets me do it in monthly installments. A late-night Internet special, and I got the first month Absolutely Free.)

January 16, 2008 at 08:38 PM · A thousand apologies for backing up so far, but I was in Cleveland all morning:

From Jon O'Brien, Jan. 16:

I know nothing of A Beka and I don't know why religion is brought into this thread. Everyone has a religion. If they say they don't they are not honest. Atheism is a religion too, a crazy, irrational and unlikely one, with all the trappings of a religion.

Well no, atheism isn't a religion. It is by its very definition a *rejection* of religion. It also does not stand as a belief system by itself, has no traditions or stated central dogma (besides the most basic "there is no God"), so it cannot reasonably be called a religion. Also, I think most people who find fault with atheism would point to an excess of rationalism, not a lack thereof.

An honest view would accept that both self-teaching and teacher/student learning are good, proven models. There is a bit of immaturity and spite in this thread. Apologies would not be out of place. Why are so many threatened by difference? Have the guts to accept something that doesn't have, for once, your own big tick of approval. Let it be. Quit trying to kill it. Or are you scared that you and your world aren't good enough? That others might outdo you?, actually, a really honest view would accept that there is no substitute for a good teacher. Nobody denied that some very basic rudiments might be learned via a DVD or similar medium, but once the student progresses beyond the simplest? Each student is different, has talents for and difficulties with different aspects of the instrument. A pre-programmed DVD simply CANNOT take a student's individuality and individual needs into account, by its very nature.

And please, cut the crap about how "threatened" we are. It's nonsense, not even worth replying to.

Never stomp on enthusiasm and love. That is the beginning of inhumanity.

No one is "stomping on enthusiasm and love." If we're stomping on anything, it's the highly dubious claim that someone can learn to play the violin (again, to any sort of advanced or even intermediate level!) by watching instructional DVDs. By way of analogy, if a friend of mine was ill and needed a certain medication or surgery, but instead, with great excitement and high hopes, chose to try some snake-oil-and-gingko-leaves concoction she bought off the internet (one that would obviously be utterly insufficient to cure her ailment), would I be "stomping on hope" if I told her she was out of her mind and needed to go to a real doctor??

As far as "that is the beginning of inhumanity" goes--first of all that's debatable, and second of all, I'm sure I'm not the only one who doesn't appreciate comments implying I'm approaching inhumanity any more than the assertion that it took me years of study to learn to play "Mary Had a Little Lamb."

January 16, 2008 at 09:06 PM · mathias,

"I aspire to become better today than yesterday, otherwise I won't be better tomorrow than yesterday."

can you honestly say that you can maintain that zeal with every little thing in your life on a daily basis? most people can't. they need to set priorities. they focus on some and let others slide. in your case, i bet you play better violin than ping pong because of the precise point that i am making. and since we don't know annette and her kid well enough, what role violin plays in their lives, our suggestion may not be the final and only way??? is that clear to you now?

lets assume annette is what she says she is, a homeschooling mom fishing for info all over the universe to better her kid's education.

when she posted that dvd info, do you expect her to

1) share whatever she finds exciting/interesting


2) give some deep proactive thoughts about how her suggestion will be received on this site?

i think she is 1) and i accept that with no problems at all. if we lean toward 2), i think it may be too much to ask of everyone to live up to that standard. and that was my point in one of the posts: the standard for good classical training is very high.

education takes time and takes a process of trials and errors. people are different and they may change. imo, the most effective way to influence people is to be able to maintain communication. who give sheet how correct we say it, it is how it is received that matters, right?! how many parents have warned their kids not to do drugs only to see their kids do drugs? but i told them! sorry, they did not hear you!

granted, her language and exclamation marks might have been mistaken as sales pitch and we are sick of that so we ganged up and smashed her around for the heck of it. Take that Sister! do you want to be treated like that, mathias?

this is a cool site because people are open minded, helpful and gracious. we should treat serious violinists and not serious yet lurkers with hugs and kisses of equal size:). in fact, i think we should treat people like me real good and violinists real bad because violinists need the training for what is coming up:):):)

mathias, if you have problem undertanding any of that, i will get you a teacher or a dvd:)

January 16, 2008 at 09:03 PM · Thanks, al, I will wait for the Simon Fischer DVDs ;-)

January 16, 2008 at 09:08 PM · Al,

"I aspire to become better today than yesterday, otherwise I won't be better tomorrow than yesterday."

This was nothing about priorities in my life but about my aspired attitude to violin practice and the difficulties not to dream but to practice. I think I clarified that I have no problem with DVD instruction for beginners.

January 16, 2008 at 09:19 PM · i do have problems with beginners using dvds as compared to advanced students using dvds. annnet you do whatever you like, but be open minded that one day if your kid is serious about violin, the earlier you switch to a good real teacher, the better off she will be.

many have touched this already: there are just way too many variables for a beginner to make sense of if the only source of education is from dvds. it is like me telling you how to play ping pong competitively by phone.

for advanced students who already possess a set of solid fundamentals, dvds can be helpful because at that stage the students know what to look for. the perspective is different.

January 16, 2008 at 09:32 PM · Mara, he didn't say anything about stomping on hope. He said stomping on enthusiasm and love - as different as night and day. Love and enthusiasm is one sound and being alive to hear it, rather than being dazzled by Chopin. This bothers me more than anything. It's like body snatching, to me. It's perverting something wholesome and natural and vital. It dismisses Woody Guthrie as a second rate poet. Just doesn't stand up in the true light of day. It's not even tent vs. foundation. It's many mansions. That's love and enthusiasm.

January 16, 2008 at 09:30 PM · Thank you, Mara. I didn't have the energy. (Must be my atheist torpor kicking in.)

January 16, 2008 at 09:40 PM · Al, I completely agree. Violin instruction DVDs for beginners are for those who want to use them. I wouldn't either.

January 16, 2008 at 11:16 PM · You're saying there's denominations and then there's Denominations.


January 16, 2008 at 11:27 PM · Jim--sorry, but I can't even follow your train of thought in that response.

January 17, 2008 at 01:11 AM · Anyone have anything witty to close this thread with?

January 17, 2008 at 01:19 AM · It's so hard to be witty when someone says be witty.

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